Published On: Thu, Sep 21st, 2017

Introducing Electric Drive in India for Rickshaws and Buses


Electric Drive in IndiaIndia is planning to launch 100, 000 battery-powered autorickshaws and buses on its sulphurous streets in the approaching week, targeting electric drive in India and trying to meet a vision of new vehicle sales to be all-electric by 2030.

India is one of the world’s most populated country and they have planned to kill its fossil fuel addiction – as daunting as it may seem, with proper planning and implementation their plan would pull through.

India’s carbon emmissions claims at least 1.2 million deaths a year in the country on pollution, the Greenpeace groups blame transport as being the major source of it. Laying off diesel and petrol would improve nation’s health and would support India’s pledge made in Paris in 2015 to meet the bold climate change targets.

India is not alone in this race of ending the fossil fuel cars and going all-electric, although it’s being more ambitious than the other countries. Britain and France also aim to do the same by 2040 and end the sale of fossil fuel cars.

But electric and hybrid models make up just three per cent of all cars on the road worldwide, say London-based consultancy firm PwC. That figure is even lower in India, underscoring the enormity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s electric challenge.

On top of gradually bringing in electric rickshaws and buses in New Delhi, the government has issued a tender to auto makers for 10,000 cars to replace pollution producers at four government ministries.

The government does not want to pay for a network of charging stations for millions of future green motorists to power up depleted car batteries.

Ashok Jhunjhunwala, principal advisor to the power minister and the official spearheading the efforts, said that private energy companies will invest in swapping bays, where drivers can exchange empty batteries for fresh ones.

It plans to lease batteries separately for public transport and taxi fleets. It also wants more work on smaller, easier to use batteries.

Amara Raja Batteries, an Indian battery manufacturer, would be part of the “swapping model”, said its chief executive S. Vijayanand. “The headache of managing and charging the battery will not be with the driver then,” he said.

Other ideas include setting tougher efficiency standards so new vehicles use less power. “The idea is to keep it as low-cost as possible,” Jhunjhunwala said. “Vehicles and chargers must happen without subsidies and must make business sense.”

Mahesh Babu, chief executive at Indian conglomerate Mahindra, said it was an exciting project but government efficiency targets are idealistic and might lead to compromise on consumer needs and safety.

Others are more optimistic. Reductions in the size and cost of electric vehicles, coupled with rapid technological advances, mean India’s ambitions were very feasible, said Bill Hare, chief executive of the Berlin-based Climate Analytics consultancy.

Foreign car majors are not ready to bring their electric offerings to India. Mercedes said it needs a reasonable timeline and improved incentives for motorists — currently a tiny sum that could be withdrawn at any time — to bring in electric cars. Tesla boss Elon Musk — who in July launched Model 3, a mass-market version of Tesla’s pricier cars — has postponed entry to the Indian market.

But at $35,000, even the cheapest Tesla is out of reach for most Indians. Most of the three million new cars added to India’s roads every year are far cheaper, compact vehicles.

Nissan Motor is test driving its Leaf model to see how it performs on Indian roads and copes with pollution and extreme weather conditions.

That leaves the field wide open for Mahindra, currently the only company selling electric cars in India. Its hatchback, sedan and van sell in Delhi from $11,000 to $15,000, after a subsidy of $2,300.

The company hopes to sell up to 5,000 units this year, including autorickshaws.

So far it has tied up with cab firms in a handful of cities, logistics firms and start-ups that offer a sharing system of self-driving cars.

About the Author

- An enthusiast working in Dubai as an Assistant Operations Manager. Writing about Pakistan and the latest happenings, trends around the globe is my passion. A dreamer, learner and a major foodie.